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Network monitoring software (NMS) plays a crucial role in ensuring the smooth and uninterrupted operation of the network that digital enterprises have come to rely on. It enables organizations and their NetOps teams to proactively monitor, manage, and optimize their networks, identifying and resolving issues before they impact productivity and performance.

NMS is also commonly referred to as network performance management or network performance monitoring (NPM). With many NMS vendors to choose from, selecting the right solution for your enterprise can be a challenging task. Below are some insights and guidance to help you make an informed decision.

What are Your Network Monitoring Requirements?

The most critical step in the process is to understand your requirements for the NMS solution. Start by assessing:

  • the size and complexity of your network
  • the number of devices and applications you need to monitor
  • the critical areas that require immediate attention

Consider whether you need capabilities such as real-time monitoring, performance analysis, bandwidth management, or security features. By clearly defining your needs, you can narrow down the options and choose an NMS solution that aligns with your objectives.

Visibility and Monitoring Capabilities

Efficient network monitoring software should provide comprehensive visibility into your network infrastructure, allowing NetOps professionals to monitor all critical components and performance metrics. Look for an NMS/NPM solution that offers real-time monitoring, alerting, and reporting features.

Also critical is that the solution can collect the telemetry types needed to meet the requirements identified in the previous section. For example, if application performance from a network perspective is critical then packet level analytics would help meet that requirement, while also providing insights into:

  • network traffic
  • bandwidth utilization
  • device health
  • application performance
  • security threats

Consider the availability of customizable dashboards, intuitive graphical representations, and historical data analysis to gain valuable insights into network trends and patterns.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

How Scalable and Flexible is the NMS Solution?

As your enterprise grows, your network monitoring requirements will evolve as well. It’s crucial to select an NMS solution that is scalable and flexible enough to accommodate future expansion.

Ensure that the software can handle the increasing number of devices, network traffic, and data volume without compromising performance. One critical area of scalability is understanding the big data aspect of telemetry. For example, if packet analytics was identified as being critical for the application performance monitoring requirement mentioned earlier, providing packet-level visibility at scale can be challenging – unless the NMS solution was designed specifically to handle scaling.

Additionally, check if the software integrates well with other tools and technologies you currently use or plan to adopt in the future. For example, if SD-WAN adoption is being planned, ask, “Does the solution provide visibility into the SD-WAN fabric or offer multi-cloud visibility?”

How Easy Is the NMS to Use?

The user interface and ease of use are essential factors to consider when selecting network monitoring software. The software should offer an intuitive and user-friendly interface, allowing network administrators and IT teams to navigate and access relevant information easily.

When considering an NMS’ ease of use, look for features such as:

  • customizable dashboards and reporting
  • interactive charts
  • built-in workflows
  • drill downs for exploratory analysis

These capabilities help simplify the monitoring and troubleshooting process. One key aspect with respect to useability is being able to drill down into context for various telemetry to help root cause analysis. For example, being able to see high level alerts for degraded performance of business-critical applications like order management while being able to go deeper to those exact packets that triggered the alerts to easily remediate the issue.

Can the NMS Help with Automation and Alerting?

NMS should automate routine tasks and provide proactive alerts to potential issues or anomalies. Look for a solution that offers customizable alerts through email and syslog and also via integration to IT service management (ITSM) systems like ServiceNow. The ability to configure thresholds and integrate with ITSM can significantly improve efficiency and reduce downtime.

Does the NMS Provide Security Workflows?

Security is a paramount concern for enterprises — the network team is being asked more than ever to investigate security incidents while also looking for anomalous behaviors. The more the NMS can work effectively and efficiently with security requirements, the more widely it will be used by both the network and security teams.

NMS Customer Support and Future Proofing

Choosing a reputable vendor with excellent customer service and support is crucial when investing in network monitoring software – investigate the team behind the tech! Research the vendor’s reputation, check customer reviews, and evaluate their track record in delivering reliable software solutions.

Just as important, consider the availability of technical support, software updates, and maintenance services. Lastly, take the time to understand the vendor’s roadmap and vision: Make sure that their future capabilities and support for new network constructs align with the future requirements of your organization.

Selecting Your NMS: The Next Step

Selecting the right NMS is critical to today’s digital enterprise. Go through the following checklist of specific requirements to make an informed choice that’s in step with your business objectives. You should evaluate:

  • scalability
  • monitoring capabilities
  • ease of use
  • automation
  • support

Remember that the NMS should be viewed as an investment that enhances network performance, security, and overall operational efficiency. By choosing wisely, you can ensure a robust and reliable network infrastructure that supports your enterprise’s growth and success.

LiveAction provides best in class NMS/NPM solutions for enterprises looking to monitor and manage their diverse and complex digital footprint, including multi-cloud, SD-WAN, distributed cloud (DC), and edge networks. To learn more about how LiveAction’s LiveNX NPM platform and LiveWire high-speed packet analysis solution can help meet your network monitoring requirements, visit here to request a demo from a LiveAction expert.

John Smith is CTO and Founder of LiveAction